As I rounded the corner I saw my friend Sarah’s fiery house fold like a lawn chair and slam hissing into the swimming pool. The lawn mower in the garage had exploded, launching stored furniture, holiday decorations and bags of Moo-Doo over their small vegetable garden, setting the house ablaze. My friend Sarah was in hysterics. Horrified, she thought of her diaries and the birth control pills.
I saw her dad throw undamaged dining room chairs, two at a time, onto the flaming azaleas (he always hated those chairs). He kicked at a Captain Beefheart record as it melted, form-fit, over a garden gnome. “How Dali” he thought, then panic: his porn and all the hidden booze bottles.
Her mom was on her hands and knees picking up shards of shattered Hummel figurines and weeping, her knees bloody. She looked back at the house and, reality check: a recent affair she secretly wished hadn’t ended. She had kept notes and a few photos.
I stood across the street and watched as the firetrucks sprayed water from a tangle of serpentine hoses. I wondered to myself, “If my house were on fire, what would I want to desperately save and what would I want to be lost forever?”
Later, the fire inspector met with the family to try to determine the cause of the inferno. The father turned to my friend, “You weren’t smoking in your closet again Sarah, were you? “No!” exclaimed Sarah. “Honestly, it wasn’t me!”
Sarah was telling the truth. It turned out that the wiring for the new smoke alarm in the garage was faulty and a spark had caused the horrible fire. The newspaper headline read: “Swimming Pool Extinguishes Fire.” The story went to mention several dining room chairs sticking out of the azaleas.
© Steve Stucko